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C. S. Giscombe

1950–

C. S. Giscombe was born in 1950 in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated with degrees in English from University at Albany and Cornell University. At Cornell, he edited Epoch magazine.

His books of poems include Border Towns (Dalkey Archive, 2016), Ohio Railroads (Omnidawn, 2014), Prairie Style (Dalkey Archive Press, 2008), Giscome Road (Dalkey Archive Press, 1998), and Here (Dalkey Archive Press, 1994). Giscombe is also the author of Into and Out of Dislocation (North Point Press, 2000), a travelogue-memoir in prose.

Giscombe’s honors and awards include the Stephen Henderson Award in Poetry, the American Book Award, and the Carl Sandburg Prize, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, and the Canadian Embassy.

He has taught at Cornell University, Syracuse University, Illinois State University, the New York State Poets-in-the-Schools Program, and Penn State. He currently teaches poetry at the University of California and lives in Berkeley.


Bibliography

Poetry
Border Towns (Dalkey Archive, 2016)
Ohio Railroads (Omnidawn, 2014)
Prairie Style (Dalkey Archive Press, 2008)
Giscome Road (Dalkey Archive Press, 1998)
Here (Dalkey Archive Press, 1994)
Postcards: Poems (Ithaca House, 1977)

Prose
Into and Out of Location (North Point Press, 2000)

By This Poet

1

First Dream

(from Negro Mountain)

Wolves came up the driveway and through the side yard of the old house—this 

was in kindergarten time—and I stood still though I was frightened 

to be in their midst and they took note of me but did 

not bite or threaten me. The light was light I had known—by then—

having seen it in the hour before a thunderstorm: dull, bitter light, and everywhere though

without apparent source. The wolves had ragged gray pelts—bad fur, tufts

of it—and their hindquarters were skinny in comparison to their very big shoulders.

They’d come in apparently from the street, Liscum Drive, and onto the property (which 

was nearly an acre and had once been a farmstead), and they parted around where 

I was standing. It was almost literally a wave of them, those wolves, as 

though they’d come up the hill from West Third Street or somehow got through 

the chain-link fence of the V.A. cemetery that traced the hill 

on Liscum Drive.  

	       A white friend wrote to me, the human figure passes through the animal 

pack unharmed. And she said that she saw the dream as being not about 

the wolves as much as passing through adversity, this exchange 

decades after the dream itself, which had been a thing of moment—visual, 

tinctured with obvious anxiety—and current in my memory for that time before the year she 

and I met.

	   Make no mistake, dear and articulate friends, I knew it    

was an unstable moment. My thumbs  

were different, I’d seen, from one 

another. Beyond the driveway had been pear and walnut trees.  

One passes through a wood, or a track does.  

A dull feeling overtakes you in the field.  

There had been a gate at the driveway but only

the posts remained, grown through by the hedges that stopped on either side 

of the entrance from the street.  What do hills 

summarize? Origin stories? Right

and left separated long before this. Bait me, love

—I can pass until I speak.